An introduction to art and its theories is essential for understanding the complex nature of conceptual / Contemporary Art as well as having a basis for which to discuss some of the most important themes that have ever inspired art making. After WWII early postmodern practices exploded onto the art scene, many critics were skeptical. Artists had little knowledge or explanation for what generated the new ideas, whether it be Cold War politics, popular culture and mass media images, or the expansion of the middle class. Modern and Postmodern theories inform Modern and Postmodern practices. The following pages encourage art educators to become familiar with the concepts that not only shape the field we teach, but inform the pedagogical and theoretical foundation of our discipline.

Concepts Explored in Art Theory
Author / Authority
Reading / Literacy / Texts / Literature / Semiotics / Translations
Subjectivity / Interpretation
Culture: Multiculturalism, Popular Culture, Media Culture
Space / Time
Posts: Post-modernism, Post-structuralism, Post-colonialism
Differences: Gender, Queer, Race, Class

Getting Started / Texts
Jeffery Nealon & Susan Searls Giroux: Theory Toolbox: Critical Concepts for the New Humanities (2003)
Cynthia Freeland: Art Theory: A Very Short Introduction (2007)
Cynthia Freeland: But is it Art: An Introduction to Art Theory (2002)
Charles Harrison & Paul Wood: Art in Theory 1900-2000 (2003)
Hal Foster, Rosiland Krauss, Yve-Alain Bois, Benjamin Buchloh: Art Since 1900 (2004)
Kristine Stiles & Peter Selz: Theories & Documents of Contemporary Art (1996)
Zoya Kocur & Simon Leung: Theory in Contemporary Art Since 1985 (2005)
Robert Williams: Art Theory: An Historical Introduction (2004)

Related Readers:
Thomas Docherty: Postmodernism: A Reader (1993)
Simon During: Cultural Studies Reader (2007)
Nicholas Mirzoeff: Visual Culture Reader (2002)
Stephen Duncomb: Cultural Resistance Reader (2002)

Some Necessary Modern Art History Texts:
Charles Baudelaire: The Painter of Modern Life (1863)
Walter Benjamin: The Work of Art in the Mechanical Age of Reproduction (1935)
Clement Greenberg: Avant-Garde and Kitsch (1939)